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Simple Strategies Could Cut Chronic Disease Deaths

Reducing salt intake and enacting smoking control measures could lower cardiovascular mortality in developing countries

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Reducing individuals' salt intake by 15 percent and enacting four tobacco control measures could have a substantial impact on mortality from chronic disease in 23 developing countries at a very modest economic cost, researchers report in an article published online Dec. 5 in The Lancet.

Perviz Asaria, of the Kings Fund in London, U.K., and colleagues modeled the effect that a 15 percent reduction in salt consumption would have on blood pressure and cardiovascular mortality in 23 developing countries, and also calculated the effect that implementation of four World Health Organization guidelines aimed at reducing demand for tobacco would have on smoking-related mortality.

Over the next 10 years, 13.8 million deaths could be averted in the 23 countries studied: 8.5 million deaths by limiting salt, and 5.5 million deaths by enacting tobacco control guidelines, mostly due to prevention of cardiovascular disease. The annual cost of these interventions would be less than 40 cents per person in low- to lower middle-income countries, and between 50 cents and $1 per person in upper middle-income countries.

"A small number of population-based interventions, which could be implemented without great cost or the need for structural change to the health system…could make a major contribution to the goal of reducing rates of death from chronic diseases by an additional 2 percent per year," the authors write.

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